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21 Feb 2022

'I'm being chased for a debt, but I think it could be a scam'

How fraudsters are exploiting energy supplier failure

Do you have an issue you need to put right? Which? is here to help get your consumer problems sorted.

Dear Which?,

I've received an email purporting to be from ABD Debt Recovery, requesting payment, by bank transfer, of £56 - which I allegedly owe to Brilliant Energy.

I was indeed a customer of Brilliant Energy, which ceased trading in March 2019. This is the only correspondence regarding this alleged debt that I've ever received. The phone number in the email doesn't work. I have replied to the email requesting evidence of the debt. What else can I do?

Name and address supplied

Put to Rights

Faye Lipson, Which? senior researcher, says...

You were right to be cautious, as this email raises many red flags.

Brilliant Energy was swiftly taken over by SSE, overseen by regulator Ofgem. You and fellow customers would have been automatically switched to SSE and any inherited debt balance would have been managed by the new supplier, or Brilliant's administrator, Begbies Traynor, in the months following. Not three years later.

The inclusion of a sort code and account number in the actual email is quite typical of scammers - they prefer bank transfers as they are much harder to reverse.

Then there's the non-working phone number and the fact that ABD's stated website doesn't work either. A quick look at Companies House tells us there is an ABD Debt Recovery Ltd registered, but it's listed as dormant in 2021. Our attempt to email the firm led to an automatic bounceback.

A list of former Brilliant Energy customers may have been sold on or otherwise fallen into the hands of scammers, for whom ABD - which may be genuine - has proved a useful front.

Don't send any money. Speak to SSE (sse.co.uk) to verify whether anything is owing. If it says no, report the email to Action Fraud, or if you live in Scotland you can report a scam directly to the police by calling 101.

Need to know

  • Don't be pressured into paying - always query requests for money with the company concerned by calling them on the phone number on their website
  • Hover your mouse over the email sender name to see the email address behind it
  • If you've sent money to a scammer, contact your bank immediately
  • Sign up for our free scam alert emails to get updates on the latest scams news and advice

Get in touch. If you've got a consumer rights problem you need put right, email us at yourstory@which.co.uk.

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